Holomuseum: an aumented reallity exhibition maker app.

Holomuseum is the first in a series of applications created by the AR division of the IDF (Design and Manufacturing Institute), specially designed for Microsoft’s Hololens augmented reality glasses. It is an application designed to facilitate the creation and maintenance of multimedia object displays in any space.

 

 The Holomuseum system can be seen at the exhibition “Repensat i Fet” from 13 June to 25 July 2017 in the exhibition hall of the Rectorate of the Universitat Politècnica de Valencia.

Our system uses the revolutionary properties of this new type of glasses to create a new category of exhibition – the exhibition of mixed reality – while trying to solve several of the intrinsic problems that still carry this technology, such as: its low power of calculation And storage; The difficulty in managing and maintaining the spatial locations of the objects associated with each room; And the lack of an interaction language to conveniently operate with virtual contents in the physical space.

 

Hololens: A new category of AR hardware. A new media?

We’ve been working with Hololens since they appeared just over a year ago for developers. Our interest in creating content and applications for this system arose when we verified that it was the first device really capable of materializing a long-awaited dream: to be able to perceive and interact with virtual contents in the form of holograms anchored to the physical space.
In summary, we can establish three great properties that make these glasses the first device of a new category of hardware augmented reality:

  • They are portable, relatively light and totally self-sufficient. They do not need a PC connected to them like other augmented reality systems (like HTC Vive or Oculus Rift), and can operate with contents that are obtained from Internet via Wifi.
  • They are able to continuously track the space to place the contents in the view of the user in a spatially coherent way, giving the feeling that the virtual elements are anchored to the surrounding physical world.
  • They are stereoscopic and transparent. The stereoscopic images are generated in the central part of the spectacle and do not block the user’s natural vision, creating the illusion that the projected objects are on the natural space of the vision. While generating a very pleasant and perceptively high-resolution image that, moreover, does not have the problems of producing typical dizziness of VR glasses systems.

In this area we saw the need to generate a specific application to facilitate the creation of exhibitions of all kinds aimed at exploiting the new capabilities of the AR medium. It is a tool prepared to meet the needs of both the curator of the exhibition and the visitor. On the one hand there is an editing mode, in which we can manage as curators the list of objects to be displayed, and place them in the physical space permanently, and on the other, it has the default mode, the visitor mode, prepared for Automate the upload and download of content from the request by voice or gestures on the bulletin board of each content.

The need for a “augmented reality exhibition maker”.

Our system “Holomuseum” solves several important problems arisen by one part by the own current limits of the technology -management and maintenance of a collection of contents of AR and its stable location in one or several rooms- and on the other, by the absence of a consensual language of interaction for the handling of AR content.

Management of a collection of contents.

Our application is designed to automatically add new content from an XML page published on the Internet. A traditional approach to generating different content and applications is to generate a different application for each of them. This point of view has several damages to create an exhibition with various multimedia objects: on the one hand, to activate any content it becomes necessary to open and close each content – multimedia program, interactive, 3d objects, sound, etc. – Thus losing the conception of stable collection, necessary in any exhibition. This page describes in a simple way the list of objects that are part of the collection to be exhibited. At any time you can change with a word processor and thus update the contents of the sample without having to change applications or make changes to it.

Generation of a specific language for interaction with collections of AR objects/applications.

The way to operate with a collection of elements is done traditionally in a PC through graphic listings (as in a web page), however, this approximation seems very poor when it comes to integrating the contents in the physical space. Our approach involves the creation of a simple language that is more in line with the three-dimensional space based on the binomial Poster / Contents. It is a system of small cubes of 15 centimeters, which refer, as the cards, to each of the contents described in the list of the exhibition.

These interactive cubes function as a sort of button / card to download the contents – which can be from a small animation to a complex interactive program. The user can activate these cubes with a simple voice command (“Open box”) or with an air tap gesture. When the system is activated, it downloads the content into memory, and the user sees the cube fly through the room to the location previously established by the curator of the exhibition where the exposed content should finally appear. The cubes can be placed next to cards or real descriptors hung on the walls of the room to help the user understand the distribution of the same in space.

Location of the contents in the room.

The relation between the virtual content and the real elements in the exhibition space is the one that gives meaning to the augmented reality. The perfect placement of AR objects in the living space presents a basic problem of maintenance and personalization, since the perfect location of the objects is subject to the conditions of each space and to the criteria of each exhibitor. Our system establishes in the editing mode some handlers to facilitate the personalized relocation of the cubes-cart and its associated contents. With a simple air-tap gesture you can relocate any virtual item so that the visitor will find it there the next time the application is opened.

The beginnings of a new medium for art and industry.

The symbiosis of real and virtual elements are capable of generating new narratives where the virtual overlaps over the real not to replace it, but to increase its communicative and emotional strength. We understand that this new type of AR devices, inaugurated with Hololens, is positioned as a true new means of communication, with infinite possibilities in both industry and art. That is why it shows first exposure with Holomuseum is a compendium of contents of very diverse nature that demonstrate several of the innovative properties of the medium.

Technology offer from our research group

As a research group within the IDF (Institute of Design and Manufacturing of the UPV) we are specialists in software engineering, manufacturing and multimedia design, and that is why we have embarked passionately in the generation of content and applications for this new Medium, knowing that there is still much room to go in the next few years. We are open to future collaborations with institutions and companies willing to bet on being at the forefront of what we believe is beginning to be seen as the next great leap in computing, in lines such as:

  • The design, creation and evaluation of UX (User experiences) for Hololens.
  • The creation of AR prototypes for the improvement of industrial productivity in specific activities.
  • Investigation of the effects and use of RA systems in production line and in exhibitions.
To obtain more information about our group and to establish possible collaborations you can write us to: reality@institutoidf.com 

Instituto de diseño y fabricación (IDF)
CPI, Universitat Politècnica de València. Camino de Vera s/n. Edificio 8E bajo. 46022